Donald Clifton spent 40 years studying the strengths of great leaders. He became the father of the worldwide strengths movement – a powerful movement focused on what individuals do well. Humans enjoy substantial success when we know, develop, and employ our strengths in work and life. On the other hand, when we focus on our weaknesses, we lose confidence, frustrate our efforts, and limit our results.
This is not to suggest that we should not understand our weaknesses, we should. Knowing what you do well requires knowing what you don’t do well. However, attempting to turn our weaknesses into strengths is a trap that leaders often perpetuate. When this well-intentioned effort (or trap) is employed, progress is slow, results are limited, and time is squandered. The same time invested in learning and developing our strengths yields a much stronger, highly-leveraged return.
I learned and relearned this lesson when I worked to become someone I was not. It is natural to admire the strengths of other successful leaders. It is common to think we can emulate those leaders. In coaching leaders over the years, I have observed the substantial benefits of exercising a strengths-based philosophy. Leaders that invest in their strengths as well as developing their direct reports strengths, are simply more effective. Leading with strengths is an ongoing growth process that snowballs and generates momentum quickly toward bottom-line results.
My Top 10 CliftonStrengths themes: Learner-Belief-Achiever-Deliberative-Harmony-Focus-Responsibility-Intellection-Consistency-Command
Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. (1924-2003), a past chairman of Gallup, was the chief designer of the Clifton StrengthsFinder Profile. In 2002, he was cited as the “Father of Strengths-Based Psychology” in an American Psychological Association Presidential Commendation.
Strengths-Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath – an excellent book which includes the CliftonStrengths assessment and outlines compelling research that demonstrates why and how to invest in your strengths.
Soar With Your Strengths: A Simple Yet Revolutionary Philosophy of Business and Management by Donald Clifton – an inspiring book for businesses, managers, and individuals on how to achieve the absolute best by focusing on strengths and steering away from weaknesses. This revolutionary, humanistic approach to business will transform companies, build careers, and change lives.
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